First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Libertarian thought is emerging--one might even say oozing out around the edges--into the political discourse these days.
One reason, I suspect [and hope], is that Libertarians are becoming more and more willing to stand up and confront social conservatives, who were never really small-government advocates, and who have proven [at least the political leaders] to be quite willing to use both force and fraud not only to maintain their hold on power, but to remove essential civil liberties from the American people.
Or maybe--as Robert Heinlein would have put it--we're just in the silly season.
But when you see Libertarianism used in such throwaway fashion as the NYT does here:
No one really knows what to call the 150-pound pig roaming free in Panama City, Fla., but by eluding the authorities for five months, shaking off a Taser and four tranquilizer darts on Tuesday, the porker has become more than just swine.
The pig is now a local libertarian hero. Supporters describe the animal as a freedom-loving outlaw with a taste for corn. His Facebook page lists more than 200 fans, like Mary K. Sittman, who asked this week, “Is the pig a symbol of our desire to live free of government controls?”
... then you realize several implicit assumptions that the author of the piece has made:
1) The majority of his readers will understand the term libertarian and equate it with a significant minority political view in America
2) The majority of his readers will understand that libertarianism has something to do with championing personal freedom against the government
Five years ago I don't think that would have been the case.
Another example of Libertarianism oozing in through the cracks:
In North Carolina, after Libertarian Gubernatioral candidate Michael Munger and Senatorial candidate Chris Cole both did far better than expected in 2008, the North Carolina Department of Taxation has started to honor requests to send voluntary contributions to the Libertarian Party, something previously reserved only for GOPers and Dems. [If you are wondering how Libertarians can see their way to cash the checks, remember: it's a voluntary donation, not a diversion of tax funds.]
And closer to home in Sussex County:
Delawareliberal's own jason has joined his co-blogger Delawaredem in endorsing the candidacy of Libertarian Wendy Jones for the 19th District Senate seat over Barbie [oops, Polly]. No, I don't think either jason or DD has suddenly developed a taste for Libertarian politics, but faced with a truly horrendous Democratic candidate they can't hold back the vomit in their throats to support, a Libertarian actually offers them a more palatable alternative than either the Republican Booth or the faux independent Opaleski.
This is success. It is incremental success thanks to the people who [unlike me] are doing the heavy shoveling for Libertarianism as a viable political philosophy: Michael Munger, Chris Cole, Tom Knapp, and our own Brian Shields.